John Elliott reports on the London sales of Indian Modern & Contemporary art where he has hearty congratulations for the team at Christie’s:
Congratulations because, given the current climate of declining sales, the auction of some 112 lots had done well realising £4.1m ($6.38m) including buyers’ premium, with only about 15 lots not sold. Relief because the art market can now push aside a disastrous sale at Sotheby’s last Thursday.
Exceeding its own poor results in London last year, Sotheby’s produced sales of only £546,800 on June 8, which totalled just 26% of the total £2.1m low estimates. Out of 88 lots offered, 51 failed to find buyers.
Bonhams, which is a much smaller player in this market, scored a day earlier with sales of £1.1m, and only 21 unsold lots out of 71. It also established its own record price for an Indian work.
Christie’s achieved a 72% market share against its two competitors with its auction, where buying seemed to be dominated by telephone and internet bidders with only a handful of buyers in the auction room. Its top sale was a magnificent Tyeb Mehta depiction ofMahishasura. Based on a Hindu legend of a demon-king and a she-buffalo producing a son, it went for its lowest estimate of £1.2m (£1.38m – $2.15m with buyer’s premium). […]
After the last round of Indian art’s international auctions in March, ArtTactic, an analysis firm, said the market was experiencing another season of decline, with $10.4m total sales down 9% from last September and 27% below March last year. That followed a steady decline in the previous two years after a boom in 2006-08. It does not seem to have changed in the past few days with the three auction houses’ sales totalling £5.74m ($8.88m).